By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Roxanne leaves, walking east toward the boulevard, where the full moon is rising over the trees. "I'd be better off going to jail," she says, her accustomed insouciance taking on an angry edge. Instead she'll turn a few tricks to get together enough cash for a motel room. "But I'm going down to the thirties," she vows. "I ain't gonna deal with Bavonese."
At 30th Street and Biscayne, she stops at the Pronto Food Market for a bottle of pink Cisco wine. "Four servings," she reads approvingly off the label. Her bad mood gone, she smiles broadly, showing large, straight teeth with a small gap between the two front ones. She stakes out a corner on Biscayne, pacing stiffly and evenly back and forth like a two-dimensional duck on a carnival firing range. One arm swings, up and back. After a while a car stops, and Roxanne climbs in quickly. A half-hour later she's back on her corner, reeking of liquor and twenty dollars richer.
A young blond man who looks straight out of a frat house pulls up in a red sports car. "Hey," he exclaims cordially, "I've been looking for you!" They drive off. The kid isn't just a client, Roxanne explains when she returns; he's also a prostitute, specializing in gay men. Now she's got enough money for a motel room. "Even if I do get a room, what am I doing to do at eleven o'clock tomorrow night?" she wonders unemotionally. "It's Saturday night. I'll be out on the street, and he'll be out on the street. He can track me down. He just asks the other girls. They'll tell him where I am. Everybody likes to see, you know, somebody get hurt."
The lushly landscaped modern house on NE 85th Street in the quiet Shorecrest neighborhood looks almost exactly the same as it did fifteen years ago when the Falcos lived there. The elephant ear philodendrons Gloria Falco planted are thriving; the curving wooden walkway to the front door and the deck the family built out back are in good shape; the names they scratched in wet concrete remain: Rocco, Gloria, Bryan, Roxanne.
"If people knew the true story of Roxanne's life, they wouldn't be so quick to condemn," says Monique Taylor, a northeast Miami property owner who knew the family in its days on 85th Street. "She is an incredible victim. Her life has been a Grecian tragedy."
Roxanne lets out a quick laugh, almost a snort, when the notion of her victimhood is raised. But she's willing to talk about her past, if she's in the right mood. A little alcohol often helps.
She was born in Easton, Pennsylvania, in January 1960, the second child of Rocco and Gloria DiFleice Falco, a couple in their mid-twenties who had married when both were thirteen, according to Roxanne. Rocco, tall and handsome, with thick black hair, was a policeman known to most of Easton's 20,000-plus residents. During his eight-year career he received commendations for saving the life of a toddler by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and for helping capture a burglar at a dry cleaner. When he resigned from the force in 1967, he was president of the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Life was pretty good until Rocco went into the restaurant business, opening Rocco's Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge in nearby Bethlehem Township. He and Gloria worked long hours, leaving for the restaurant every morning at 9:00 a.m. and returning home at about 5:00 a.m. the next day. Left alone most of the time, Roxanne's big brother Bryan began using drugs.
Rocco's burned down in November 1972. Local newspapers reported that arson was strongly suspected, but a year and a half later, the Falcos collected a $76,000 payment from their insurance company. In January 1974, Rocco and Gloria, who had purchased a popular Easton restaurant-bar called Trembler's, were arrested after police raided a dice game there. When the evidence against them was ruled to have been illegally seized, the case was thrown out. The restaurant was fined for liquor-law violations late that year, and not long afterward, the family left Pennsylvania. "They skipped town to Florida," Roxanne recalls. "They left everything up there except most of my grandmother's antiques. They had some very valuable pieces."
The family settled near Tampa, in New Port Richey. Roxanne was sent to the Adirondack Southern School for Girls, Bryan to Admiral Farragut Academy, and Rocco and Gloria opened another restaurant. "Things started going bust again," Roxanne recounts. "I'm fifteen by then. Me and my brother both got kicked outta the private schools, which my father had no business sending us to. I got kicked out because I was no good. I didn't give a fuck."
Bryan, who was still abusing drugs, was diagnosed as schizophrenic. And again, suddenly, the Falcos left town for points south. This time they left the antiques behind, too. Rocco got a bartending job in Miami, Roxanne remembers, and Gloria worked as a cashier at a restaurant. They saved enough to make a down payment on the house on 85th Street. Sometime around then, Rocco allegedly went into the drug business. "He started selling capsules of powder," Roxanne says. "He would show 'em to me. Then he graduated to higher quality [cocaine]."